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Pair of conjoined robins set free after rehab


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OGDEN -- Two baby robins that were joined at the wing have finished their stay at a local rehabilitation facility, nearly two months after they were born.

When the robins were born, a piece of twine that was used in the construction of the nest became wrapped around the right wing of one bird and the left wing of its sibling. The birds flapped their wings and could drag themselves along the ground, but flying was impossible.

A Centerville woman found the birds on her lawn and took them to a veterinarian, who was able to separate the birds. After separated, the robins were taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, located near the mouth of the Ogden Canyon.

"It was pretty frightening. The one was in pretty critical condition," said Dalyn Erickson, Executive Director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. "She had to have a wing amputation because the twine had been bound up around the wings. The other little guy had some damage to the tendons in his wing and required extensive antibiotics and physical therapy to give him a chance to go back to the wild."

Each day, staff and volunteers at the rehab center worked to make the robins stronger. Erickson said physical therapy for birds is pretty much the same as done for humans.

"Just full range of motion, keeping that wing moving, making sure the tendons didn't bind up and was able to use the wing properly."

It wasn't an unusual case for Ogden's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a place which takes in about 1,400 birds and small mammals each year -- 200 of them are robins. Whether it's a tiny hummingbird, or a Peregrine falcon that was near death a few weeks ago, the workers provide tender loving care.


It's amazing. You have the opportunity to take something that wouldn't have survived and be able to turn that around and give it a second chance and kind of right a wrong. They belong outside where they're happy. And to be able to put them back where it makes them happy is awesome.

–Dalyn Erickson


"We go to great lengths to avoid any kind of habituation or imprinting," Erickson said. "So we want to keep them as wild as we can. So the goal of our program is to release everything we possibly can back to the wild. The success rate is good with approximately 68 percent eventually released."

The majority of the injuries seen here are the result of some sort of human impact. Birds are often hurt trying to build nests in uncovered fireplace and dryer vents. Others are shot, or are hurt in collisions with vehicles.

Erickson said, if anyone finds an injured bird or small animal, do not try to feed it yourself in an attempt to save it. You'll probably do more harm than good. Let the experts handle it.

The robin, which had its wing partially amputated, will never fly, but is now otherwise healthy. It's in a cage in the lobby and will probably become the rehab center's mascot. As for the other robin, it was set free this week. It didn't go too far at first. Once it took off from its cage, it flew to the nearest tree branch for a while to get used to its new found freedom.

Though the rehab center cares for the birds and animals for weeks and months while they're hurt, the staff at the rehabilitation center is never sad to see them go. Seeing the animals return to the wild is a celebration.

"It's amazing," Erickson said. "You have the opportunity to take something that wouldn't have survived and be able to turn that around and give it a second chance and kind of right a wrong. They belong outside where they're happy. And to be able to put them back where it makes them happy is awesome."

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Keith McCord

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